The New York Jets lost their offensive coordinator Chan Gailey as he officially retired. Gailey’s retirement has been a subject of debate. In this writer’s opinion, the truth lies somewhere in the middle; Gailey openly spoke about retirement at the beginning of the season and he probably wasn’t as sold on second round pick Christian Hackenberg as the rest of the Jets front office and Head Coach Todd Bowles are. With this team, you just never know. With that said, the Jets now have a vacancy to fill and here are the six offensive coordinators the Jets should be considering to both develop Hackenberg and help improve what has historically been a pretty bad offense.
I will also pair the OC candidates with a veteran quarterback and a rookie that would fit, with explanations for the pairings provided over the next two weeks. I’m also including realistic options because I don’t think it makes sense to focus on guys like Mike McCoy, who should be in high demand for head coaching vacancies. Whereas our piece earlier focused on more known names, this one will focus on guys that I think the Jets should reach out to but who you might not hear linked to them.
1. Green Bay Packers Quarterbacks Coach Alex Van Pelt
Why?: The 46 year old former backup quarterback would be number one on my list of candidates because he’s played the position before and has learned how to develop quarterbacks under the tutelage of Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Van Pelt has done good work with former first round draft pick Josh Freeman and did great work with former Bills QB Trent Edwards during his best season as a starter. Van Pelt has called plays before as well when he was named to the Bills offensive coordinator position and the offense was ranked 30th due in large part to the implosion of Ryan Fitzpatrick. If Van Pelt could coach Edwards into a 65% completion percentage and 7 wins, he could be the guy that helps Hackenberg realize his potential.
Free Agent QB: Mike Glennon
Rookie QB: Texas Tech QB Pat Mahomes
2. Oakland Raiders Quarterbacks Coach Todd Downing
Why?: A man instrumental in the development of MVP candidate Derek Carr, who people forget had a ton of questions coming into the league. Downing is the man responsible for refining Carr’s mechanics and turning Matt McGloin into a serviceable player. He was also Doug Marrone’s QB Coach in Buffalo, and was responsible for getting Kyle Orton ready without a training camp. He was also the assistant quarterbacks coach when the Detroit Lions drafted Matthew Stafford. Downing is an offensive minded coach with experience on the defensive side and the special teams side of a team. He hasn’t been a playcaller yet, but Bowles would be wise to give him a chance.
Free Agent QB: Blaine Gabbert
Rookie QB: North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky
3. Atlanta Falcons Quarterbacks Matt Lefleur
Why?: The Jets aren’t going to steal Kyle Shanahan away from Stone Cold Dan Quinn, but they can take the next best thing in the coach that’s been at Shanahan’s side for the last eight years. LaFleur was hired in 2008 by the Houston Texans to serve as an offensive assistant and he worked with wide receivers and quarterbacks during his two year stint there. While there, Lefleur developed a close relationship with the younger Shanahan. Shanahan brought LaFleur with him to Washington to coach and mentor rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, and then brought him with him to Atlanta when Quinn hired him. With experience working with veterans, first round and day two rookies, and All-Pros Lefleur could simultaneously develop Hackenberg while kickstarting the Jets offense into one that spreads the ball around and takes advantage of their playmakers.
Free Agent QB: Matt Schaub
Rookie QB: Notre Dame QB Deshone Kizer
4. Arizona Cardinals Assistant Head Coach Tom Moore
Why?: Tom Moore is widely respected around the league for his work with arguably the greatest quarterback of all time Peyton Manning, and his Colts offenses finished in the top 10 in both points and yards eight out of the last 10 seasons he was there. Moore has consulted with the Jets before and Bowles can reach out to his mentor Bruce Arians to get what I’m sure will be a ringing endorsement. Moore will bring accountability to the lockerroom as a no nonsense coach, and will help Bowles become a more well rounded head coach as well.
Free Agent QB: Brian Hoyer
Rookie QB: Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
Why? Bowles has gone out of his way to hire former players, and Ricky Proehl fits the bill in that regard. Proehl has also been able to develop WRs in Carolina at an alarming rate, turning raw prospects like Kelvin Benjamin into Pro Bowlers and turning first round busts like Ted Ginn into arguably the best receiver on the team. Proehl has learned under Ron Rivera, appears to be the type of coach that will push his players to get better, and he has experience as an offensive assistant helping to oversee the entire offense. He’s had success in the league and that commands respect, and while he doesn’t have experience calling plays his experience with wide receivers stands to reason that he’d showcase the Jets’s talented wide receivers as a playcaller.
Free Agent QB: Shaun Hill
Rookie QB: Miami Hurricanes QB Brad Kaaya
6. New Orleans Saints Quarterbacks Coach Joe Lombardi
Why? Lombardi has been a playcaller in the past, and he led the Lions to a top 10 passing attack as their offensive coordinator. He has coached on both sides of the ball and is therefore more well rounded than some other candidates. He has worked with quarterbacks that have had questions about them, such as Matt Stafford and his wonky throwing motion that has seemingly been fixed under Lombardi and current offensie coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Lombardi has worked with Sean Payton for a few years, with stops in New Orleans bookending his one year in Detroit, and he’s also been a tight end and running backs coach previously so he has experience developing the other positions on the team. Lombardi could be a sneaky option from an offensive staff that historically puts up very good numbers regardless of the offensive skill positions. Alot of people will scoff because he’s been with Drew Brees, but Brees was damaged goods when he first signed with the Saints and Lombardi’s first year as his QB coach resulted in Brees increasing his completion percentage by 5% while slashing his interceptions by 6.
Free Agent QB: Case Keenum
Rookie QB: California QB Davis Webb
Photo Credit: Saints.com